Research conducted by Sage in December 2016 revealed that political uncertainty, both globally and locally, is the most pressing cause of concern for almost half of small and medium-sized Irish businesses (45%) in looking toward the new year.
Additional information on separate page - Despite these concerns, Ireland is open for business and preparing to increase trade, with 53% of businesses planning to increase their export activity during 2017. Confidence is running high, with 97% of Irish business owners surveyed saying they are either fairly or very confident in their business, with 68% stating plans to grow their business in the next three years.
Among other key findings, let's mention the following:
- More than half of businesses have grown within the last 12 months: 57% reported a growth in sales over the previous year.
- According to businesses in Ireland, the top five obstacles faced are: competition (44%), taxation (34%), cash flow (32%), employing and retaining talent (24%), and Brexit (24%).
- Businesses claimed that the main issues hurting them at present are: exchange rates (37%), taxation (36%), and inflation (28%).
- The five political events that will have the most negative impact on business are considered to be: Brexit (50%), Euro exchange rate volatility (44%), an Irish government shakeup (26%), currency fluctuations (22%), and US election results (19%). It is interesting to note that 17% of businesses believe that political events will have NO impact on their business.
- Of all the political and economic changes taking place in 2016, Brexit is considered the most challenging, with 50% of respondents believing it will have a negative impact on their business. 44% consider fluctuations in the Euro to have a negative impact.
Jacqueline de Rojas, MD, Northern Europe, Sage added: “A gear change is urgently needed in the digital sector to maximize trading opportunities both at home and when exporting overseas. 68% of the businesses surveyed are currently not equipped to sell online. Embracing technology and the cloud will help these businesses negotiate the changing landscape, whatever changes a post-Brexit world brings.”
Eamonn O’Brien, founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club and Sage Business Expert added: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the Irish economy, so it’s really heartening to see that most entrepreneurs in Ireland (73%) are happy to be their own boss and would not change their self-employed status to become an employee in someone else’s business.”